Australia have come under fire from fans and commentators after Cameron Green came back out to bat on Wednesday at the MCG with a fractured finger. Scans revealed the extent of the all-rounder's injury on Wednesday morning after he was forced to retire hurt on Tuesday after being struck on the finger.
Green has been ruled out of the third Test at the SCG and won't be available for the rest of the summer. Cricket Australia officials said the 23-year-old wouldn't bowl in the second innings at the MCG, but left the door open for him to return to the crease with the bat.
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And that's exactly what he did on Wednesday after the Aussies suffered a staggering collapse. Anrich Nortje dismissed Travis Head and David Warner with consecutive balls before Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon came and went to leave Australia at 7-440 after they started the day on 3-386.
Green then left commentators gobsmacked when he came back out to bat despite his broken finger. Many questioned the wisdom of sending him back to the crease considering the Aussies' lead was already in excess of 250 runs.
"I'm sure when Cameron Green came to the ground this morning, he would not have been expecting to bat," Justin Langer said in commentary for Channel 7. "He would have been hoping that Travis Head would have gone on his merry way, David Warner would have come in and continued his form from yesterday and just sat back, not have to bat. We know he's not going to bowl."
Mark Waugh was equally surprised on Fox Sports, saying: “If you happen to get another blow on that finger, that could cause real damage. I’m surprised he’s come out, I’ve got to say.
"At 258 runs in front, if he’s just going to defend like this, what’s the point? He can only get hit again.”
The injury also means Green won't available for the BBL after the Test summer concludes. The 23-year-old recently received $3.1 million in the IPL auction - the highest figure for an Australian in the T20 competition's history.
Green was the second Aussie batter to retire hurt on Tuesday after Warner left the field with cramps and exhaustion after reaching 200 off 254 balls. Star fast bowler Mitchell Starc also fractured his finger in the field on Monday and will miss the SCG Test as well.
It means the Aussies will only have three of their front-line bowlers available in the second innings in Melbourne - Cummins, Lyon and Scott Boland. Green took five wickets in the first innings in a career-best display, but Australia will need to rely on the part-time spin of Head and Marnus Labuschagne if they want to go 2-0 up and win the series.
Fans were left gutted for Green after news of the fracture came to light. The youngster has endured a frustrating Test summer so far, scoring just 38 runs with the bat in four Tests at the time of his retirement on Tuesday.
Aussie injuries offer South Africa a glimmer of hope
Anrich Nortje, who inflicted the painful blow to Green, said the Aussie injury crisis had given the Proteas a glimmer of hope to turn the second Test around. Australia had a 197-run lead at stumps on day two after finishing at 3-386.
"That's going to be a big factor," Nortje said of the Australian injuries. "It's going to be crucial to bat for as long as we can.
"The more overs the bowlers are to bowl, the more maybe a backup bowler ... would have to apply themselves. That's going to be a crucial stage for us ... work through the difficult stages with our top order and then try and cash in a little bit later."
Nortje regularly reached 150 km/h in a fiery display of fast bowling in oppressive heat in Melbourne, with the mercury hitting the mid-30s on Tuesday. The South African bowler was only slowed down by a bizarre incident in which he was wiped out by Spidercam.
"It was probably up there (in my career) ... just in general, it felt really good," Nortje said of his ferocious display on Tuesday. "You feel like you can push a little bit more, push a little bit more and you feel you have a bit of momentum.
"Once you get that momentum, you ride it. It felt like I was in a good rhythm ... and try to come as hard as I can."
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